How a Heaving Foundation Affects Your Home
Have you ever experienced foundation heave in a home? More often than not, it’s pretty easy to spot. Foundation heave is what happens when your foundation suddenly experiences a rise in the ground underneath it. That rise can be very dramatic, and it can lead to several problems in your foundation. However, many homeowners don’t know how to fix it or why it happens in the first place. Here’s everything you might want to know about foundation heave.
What Causes Foundation Heave?
First off, what causes foundation heave in the first place? Although you might know what foundation heave is, you may not know why it occurs in your home. Here are some of the most common reasons foundation heave may happen underneath your home.
- An Increase in Moisture
One of the biggest reasons you might experience foundation heave is if you have a sudden increase in moisture underneath your foundation. This increase in moisture may happen for just about any reason: You might have an internal leak, flooding concerns outside your home, or just a significant amount of precipitation.
Regardless of the reason for the increase in moisture in the soil outside your home, any amount of moisture increase can cause serious foundation problems of all kinds. These problems include bowing basement walls, cracks in your foundation walls and floor, foundation heave, or any combination of the three.
- Freezing of Water
You may never have thought about it, but when water freezes, it expands. When water gets cold enough to freeze, it’s going to expand, and that expansion has to go somewhere. What happens when the water under your home freezes? If you’re particularly unlucky, you may end up with serious foundation problems, including foundation heave.
Even if you don’t have a lot of water under your home’s foundation, just a small amount of water freezing can be enough to disrupt the stability of your foundation. You can’t compress water into something smaller than the space it takes up, which means the water has to go somewhere. Foundation heave occurs when that water moves upward.
- Lingering Hydrostatic Pressure
Another problem you might experience in your home is lingering hydrostatic pressure from the building process. This may be the problem if you experience foundation heave within the first year or two since the building of the home. Lingering hydrostatic pressure tends to cause foundation heave because of how hydrostatic pressure can impact your home’s structure.
Essentially, if the hole the construction crew dug for the foundation was open to the elements, it may have dried on the top, but not underneath. Therefore, once the construction crew built the rest of the home, the walls may have started to sink into the earth, causing water to move up into the middle of the foundation floor. That can cause serious foundation heave problems.
Common Causes of Foundation Problems
Water in a Crawl Space
Your crawl space contains many of your home’s important systems. It is built specifically to seal out moisture, so how does water get inside your crawl space?
Poor Soil Supporting Chimneys
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Your plumbing directs water to and from your home. If these pipes start to leak, it can cause all sorts of problems. What can cause plumbing to leak?
A good drainage system will easily circumvent flooding. Unfortunately, several factors can contribute to drainage issues. What can cause improper drainage to occur?
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Why Is Foundation Heave a Problem?
There are many reasons that foundation heave could seriously impact your home. That’s why it’s so important to tackle it as early in the formation process as possible. Here are just a few of the problems you might experience because of foundation heave.
- Foundation Cracks
When there’s a lot of force moving up into the middle of the foundation floor, you’re inevitably going to start seeing cracks. Foundation cracks can be one of the more serious signs of foundation heave. Once you start to see foundation cracks, it’s a sign that the pressure on the foundation floor is enough to cause it to crack to release some of the pressure.
Foundation cracks can cause a variety of problems for your home. After all, when your foundation slab is complete, you have much more structural integrity to lean on. Additionally, this type of foundation crack isn’t something that requires concrete lifting; it’s a different problem, which means you must tackle it differently.
- Wall Settling and Moving
Possibly the first sign of foundation heave you’ll notice is a problem with the exterior walls in your home. Because foundation heave typically causes the middle of the foundation to rise, it can also make the exterior walls appear to lower. You might notice that the walls along the outside of your home seem like they’re “sinking,” especially when you look from the outside.
This settling and moving process occurs because water and soil tend to move from the edges of your home to the middle of the home during the foundation heaving process. Therefore, as the center of the home moves up, the outside of the home is experiencing soil washout. This can lead to a double problem where the exterior edges of the home are sinking as the middle is rising.
- Water Problems
Foundation heave can cause water problems in your home. Although existing water problems outside of the foundation can cause foundation heave, once the heaving process starts, it can cause water problems to happen inside the foundation. That’s because foundation heave often causes cracks in concrete, which can allow water inside the foundation.
When your foundation slab is one unbroken piece of concrete, it’s waterproof because water can’t go completely through concrete. However, that waterproofing fades away as soon as there’s even a small crack that goes all the way through the foundation slab. Because water is typically the reason for foundation heave, it’s even easier for that water to show up through the concrete.
FAQs About Foundation Heave
You must make attempts to notice foundation heave problems as early as possible. When you notice it early on, you can then take steps to avoid future problems with the foundation and any other elements of your home’s structure.
- Know the Warning Signs
The warning signs may be obvious if the problem has begun to escalate. You might notice your home is dealing with more leaks or random flooding during moderate rainstorms. You may also detect a few cracks beginning to stretch up your walls or notice humidity affecting odd areas of your home.
However, in the earliest stages, warning signs are quite subtle and can be overlooked by the average homeowner. For example, you might see heave on the actual foundation floor, which can look like a moderately-sized bump near the middle of the floor. Heave also tends to create cracks in the floor and push the walls out of alignment. These are the best symptoms to catch, as they will allow you to fix the problem quickly and without much expense.
- Ensure Regular Inspections
It’s always a good idea to inspect your foundation regularly to catch any early warning signs, including problems with heaving and other cracking issues. A yearly inspection will help you push off most foundation problems, including foundation heave, or at least be able to address them early on.
You can schedule an inspection with a local foundation expert who will have more experience in catching early warning signs. They may detect problems months in advance, allowing you to install safeguards that will correct an issue long before it causes damage. As a bonus, yearly inspections will also catch other issues that might have slipped your radar or that are only now displaying symptoms.
Homeowners may think that foundation heave needs to be extreme before you take it seriously. You don’t have to wait until this problem is incredibly bad. You should manage foundation heave as early as possible, regardless of its stage.
- The Benefits of Addressing Foundation Heave Early
The main reason that you should address foundation heave early is because it’s better for your home as a whole. Sure, you may not be in danger of your walls beginning to collapse or your floors beginning to crack. However, foundation problems always create secondary issues. By ignoring the problem, you may end up with drywall cracks, increased humidity levels in your home, or vulnerabilities developing in your support beams.
Your chances of being able to handle foundation heave are much higher if you take steps to address it early on. An expert can give you advice and install gear that will strengthen the foundation, reduce heaving, or reinforce your walls so they can weather the heave. Remember, foundation heave doesn’t need to be super serious before you take steps to make a change.
- Structural Integrity
If you notice the early warning signs of foundation heave, you can save the structural integrity of your home. While damage can always be repaired, this becomes more time-consuming and costly if the foundation heave has managed to impact the rest of your home. After all, your foundation is responsible for every single wall, beam, and inch of flooring in your house. If its position has been upset, then your roof, basement, kitchen, living room, and everywhere else will be affected.
That makes it crucial to address any signs of foundation heave right away. The sooner you fix the problem or safeguard your home against the negative consequences, the less damage it will sustain. This can limit the number of repairs and reinforcements you need overall.
It is possible to fix the effects of foundation heave, even if that’s a significant amount of damage. However, you need to be strategic in how you do this. Fixing foundation heave damage isn’t the ideal approach, as you want to avoid damage first and foremost, but you can fix the problem if it comes to that.
- Help From an Expert
First, you need to make sure you have a reputable and knowledgeable expert who can help you understand your foundation. With a free inspection, they can assess how bad the damage is and what led to the foundation heave. Using that information, they can give you tips and tricks to ensure the problem doesn’t happen again.
Some damage cannot be repaired by amateurs and will need an expert’s intervention. They will have the tools, equipment, and safety gear needed to address the issue. With Groundworks, you can also benefit from cutting-edge reinforcement gear that is designed to help stabilize your home from the negative effects.
- Fix the Base Problem
There will always be an underlying problem that’s causing your foundation heave; it doesn’t just show up with absolutely no reasoning behind it. With a reputable foundation repair expert on your team, you can make sure you’re fixing the base problem rather than trying to fix something that happened on the surface.
They will be able to assess your soil and foundation type and see how this factors into the solution. For example, you may need pier systems that dig into more stable soil or you may need concrete lifting for your slab foundation to help counteract any issues. You may also benefit from wall support systems, or will need basement waterproofing updates to keep out water. An expert can go over your unique situation and provide customized solutions.
It’s not a good idea to try and fix your foundation heave problems on your own. Remember, your foundation needs to be as stable as possible because the rest of your home relies on it. If you make a single mistake with your foundation, you can make the problem much, much worse.
- The Issues with DIY
There is no DIY solution for foundation heave. You cannot affect the soil, and you won’t be able to properly stabilize your home on your own. The type of gear needed could cost thousands of dollars if you try to purchase it independently, and the safety equipment that’s required may cost just as much. Likewise, without expertise, you’re likely to hurt yourself, your home, or others.
Foundation problems, especially those as severe as foundation heave, should be left to the experts. You may make a mistake throughout the process or even misdiagnose the early warning signs. If you try to install gear that doesn’t fit or that is improperly mounted, you can make the structural weakness of your home even worse, which may cause terrible damage.
- The Benefits of an Expert’s Help
Instead of trying to fix the problem yourself and potentially making those issues worse, it’s important to talk to a local expert. They will have the proper equipment, safety gear, and certifications all on hand. They also have more experience with foundation heave and related issues, so they can properly diagnose the problem with their free inspection.
As a plus, their work comes with a quality guarantee, so you don’t have to worry about shouldering the cost if anything needs to be tweaked or updated. A Groundworks foundation repair expert can assess your situation, make recommendations, and then have the correct solution installed in a short amount of time.
Fix Your Foundation Heave and Avoid Further Problems with the Help of an Expert
Fixing the foundation heave problems you’re experiencing isn’t as easy as making sure the cracks in your basement no longer exist. You can’t just cover up these cracks with a concrete patch and hope the issue goes away. Rather, you must fix the underlying problems.
If you want to make sure your foundation heave is completely gone, you must talk to a foundation repair expert. A foundation expert will work with you to understand what’s happening in your foundation, create a plan to handle it, and put that plan into motion. You can make an appointment now to get this issue under control.